Importer of Memorable Wines from the New Old World of Eastern and Central Europe
Importer of Memorable Wines from the New Old World of Eastern and Central Europe

Sziegl, Hajós-Baja, Hungary

Winery map

At a Glance

Sand, hard packed loess and clay
Gentle slopes and low hills
Kadarka, Kékfrankos, Zweigelt, Kövidinka, Cserszegi Fűszeres, Olaszrizling, Rajnai Rizling, Traminer, and Hárslevelű
5 hectares
Balázs Sziegl
Balázs Sziegl showing old vines growing on sandy soil

The People

About 3 hours south and just east of the Danube River is the village Hajós. More importantly, about 3 km outside of town is the Hajósi Pincefalu (the cellar village of Hajós). With deep Swabian roots dating back to the 1700s, there are over 1200 cellars dug into the hillsides. Driving through the Pincefalu is like a cellar theme park with sandy vineyards on top and narrow streets and cellar doors below. While this area was of course dealt the typical Hungarian historical blow after the world wars and Communism, the older sandy vineyards were left alone due to the risk of heavy Soviet tractors collapsing the vast cellar system. Here we meet Petra and Balázs Sziegl. Balázs studied viticulture and wrote a thesis on Kadarka. He is focused on the vineyards, a ton of clonal research, and preserving the older vines. Petra studied winemaking and is principally in the cellar. A young couple, new baby, and juggling a winery just founded in 2012, brand new plantings of 5, and farming a total of around 5 hectares entirely themselves. On our last visit we shared a proper Bajai Halászlé (Fisherman’s soup) made with only 5 ingredients: water, paprika, onions, fish, and pasta. It’s one of those dishes that is super unique, delicious and highlighted how versatile, vibrant and equally honest these wines are.

Sandy vineyard


The sand is almost ubiquitous here, and there are many forested areas buffering in all directions. Increasing and maintaining vine density is also key. Training ranges from goblet, to head to cordon depending on the location, clone and age of the vines. There are old fruit trees in the middle of the vineyards and often other crops nearby as well. They till when needed, but otherwise prefer to have the cover crops manage vigor. The Herreberg vineyard is 15 ha total, and Sziegl has around 3.5 ha. Their plantings here are mostly Kadarka (5 clones plus old vine material), Kékfrankos, Zweigelt and Kövidinka. Where the sand is particularly thick, they plant cover crops, otherwise they mow the natural growth. This vineyard was once noted as a “grand cru” by the top families in the region. The Hársfás-út vineyard is near Érsekhalma (15 min drive from Hajós) with a deep layer of hard packed loess and clay. It’s a rare anomaly amongst all of the sand. Roughly 4 hectares of Cserszegi Fűszeres, Olaszrizling, Rajnai Rizling, Traminer, and Hárslevelű were planted here in 1981.

Fisherman soup at Sziegl


With a traditional cellar it follows that the winemaking follow suite. Grapes are hand harvested, reds are often destemmed, whites are often whole cluster and let to soak at uncontrolled temperatures as long as possible, and everything ferments with native yeasts. Most everything continues fermenting and aging in 500ml Hungarian oak. Almost all wines are unfiltered, unfined, and the only addition is a little SO2 at bottling.

SzieglBábel 2022
Red Wine , Organic
Kékfrankos; Zweigelt; Cabernet Sauvignon;
3.9 g/l
5.6 g/l
This is essentially a “Siller,” which is in between a light red and a rosé. More tannins than a whole cluster press, way more acidity due to the earlier picks, and more aromatics as well. It’s also the result of 8-10 harvest passes, multiple processing methods, and all with super gentle pressing. The Kékfrankos and Zweigelt come from the cooler clay heavy Diófás vineyard. The first 3-4 harvest passes of the Kékfrankos and Zweigelt were all whole cluster pressed, foot trodden and then soaked for a few hours. The subsequent picks were mostly the same but the soaking time steadily increased. The late ripening Kadarka was carbonically macerated for a few days. All of the fruit (including a splash of Olaszrizling for good measure) was layered in the same large tank and eventually co-fermented until dry and bottled unfiltered. We wish we could have enough of this to drink all year.
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SzieglJónás 2021
White Wine , Organic
Olaszrizling; Riesling; Hárslevelű; Cserszegi Füszeres;
1 g/l
5.8 g/l
This is just the second vintage of their white village blend. A sibling to the red Bábel. And in the spirit of experimentation that defines Petra and Balasz, it's quite different from the inaugural version. Pulling mostly from the loam clay riddled and sandy Herreberg vineyard, they made 7-8 separate harvest passes and targeted the youngest areas. Most of the fruit is whole cluster pressed but the last few passes are foot trodden and soaked without temperature control. About 60% of the total was fermented and aged in 500L Hungarian oak. The other 200 or so liters were fermented in ceramic amphorae. These two batches were blended with the lees along with a small dose of sulfur (15ppm) before being bottled unfiltered. Much like how the Bábel is someplace in between a rosé and a light red, the Jónás is somewhere in between a skin contact and full bodied/bright white.
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SzieglKadarka Herreberg 2021
Red Wine , Organic
1.2 g/l
6 g/l
Kadarka is what brought us to visit the Sziegl family in the first place. They have a .08 hectare plot of 100+ year old Kadarka (a few other grapes peppered in here and there) called the Kolostordomb. It’s one of those places where it immediately hits you that it’s special. The head trained vines in pure sand grow parallel to the tops of the cellar house roofs with cellars directly underfoot. Only 250-300 bottles are produced a year. You need to visit in order to drink them. This is the fruit that also inspired other plantings in the 12 year old Herreberg vineyard which are in turn yielding delicious wines. This is yet another example of one of the most compelling red grapes coming back to life from Central Europe.
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SzieglKadarka Mandulás 2021
Red Wine , Organic
0.7 g/l
5.3 g/l
Although we only received a small amount of this, that’s because a lot of replantings have yet to offer fruit just yet. Named after the walnut trees in and around the vineyard, the Mandulás is a clone of Kadarka with looser bunches, thicker skins and less prone to botrytis than the clones that exist in the Herreberg Vineyard. It has more grip and color than the Herreberg, but is far easier to farm, greater yields, and is ultimately a great compliment to the lineup. It’s yet another face of Kadarka which makes this grape so compelling. Fermented in the hamburger method (3 layers: foot stomped, whole cluster, hand destemmed), 20% in above ground amphora and 80% in oak. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal SO2.
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SzieglKékfrankos Diófás 2019
Red Wine , Organic
2.8 g/l
7.4 g/l
Where the loess and sandy soils of the Herreberg near the creek often add some botrytis to the equation, the sandy and lower lying frost prone Diófás vineyard is the acidity payoff without compromising on ripeness. Case in point, they also make a Pét-nat from this same fruit in certain vintages. Having now worked together for a few vintages and been lucky enough to dig into older wines when we visit, we are finally getting our heads around their Kéfkrankos. We also initially sought them out for Kadarka and Siller (Bábel) and perhaps overlooked the other reds as well. To compound things further, the reality of the Hungarian wine market still makes selling Kékfrankos difficult since it was so ubiquitous and often made poorly during the kolkhoz (Soviet COOP) era. Sziegl continues to champion the grape despite this obvious hurdle to our benefit. This 2019 is a wonderful compliment to other Kékfrankos we have from the Mátra, Eger, Sopron, Južnoslovenská, Štajerska, Tolna, and Szekszárd. Open vat fermented and barrel aged, this is classic Kékfrankos through the Sziegl lens: super refreshing, but not losing sight of the grip and structure that the grape excels at.
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SzieglKövidinka 2020
White Wine , Organic
0.6 g/l
4.7 g/l
This is a hearty grape known for being drought and botrytis resistant. Even picked super late, it still has low alcohol without sacrificing acidity. Hungarians often describe the dominant flavors as salty thermal water and green apple. Sold! With 7 days of skin contact and 7 months in 500L Hungarian oak, this 2020 has that golden balance of tannin and fruit along with really fresh lightness. Process hasn’t superseded the grape. Kövidinka ripens very low to the ground in small bunches – a labor of love to be sure.
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SzieglOlaszrizling Birtokbor 2019
White Wine
0.9 g/l
5 g/l
The Sziegl family started in 2012 by bartering with some of the older vineyard owners to work the land in exchange for making them wine. They now live above the winery in the Pincefalú (cellar village) of Hajós-Baja. The village has Swabian winemaking roots back to the 1700s and is literally 24 streets of 1200 cellars flanked by vineyards. The ancient seabed soils (loess, clay, sand), biodiversity and organic farming along with multiple different clones brings salt to balance out the aromatics and thicker skins for texture and structure. A perfect table white for a paprika rich Halászlé (fisherman’s stew) and getting a sense for this place.
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SzieglOlaszrizling Hársfás-út 2019
White Wine
1 g/l
5.5 g/l
This is our second vintage of Olaszrizling from the Hársfás-­út vineyard. Only a 15 minute drive from Hajós heading toward the village of Érsekhalma, but the soil here is hard packed loess and clay which is a big departure from the sandy soils of the Herreberg or Kolostordomb vineyards. In addition to Olaszrizling, there’s some Cserszegi Fűszeres, Rajnai Rizling, Hárslevelű and Traminer as well. The cover crops are more like herb gardens and due to the earlier ripening and aromatic grapes, there’s a ton of animals ready to take their share too. Only a day or so on the skins in tank, it then spends 5 months in older 500L oak before being bottled unfiltered. Extremely paired down in terms of winemaking from the Jónás and Kövidinka, this is a “classic” look at Olaszrizling done exceptionally well.
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SzieglTramini 2020
White Wine , Organic
0.6 g/l
6 g/l
Tasted blind, this is the kind of Gewürztraminer that you’ll likely only recognize as Gewürztraminer once you see the label and reverse engineer things a bit. There’s no skin contact (just whole bunch pressed), but it’s on the lees for 8 months with zero additions in 500L oak with some stirring just before being bottled unfiltered. We often jump to the aromatic profile of the grape even though “Gewürtz” means “spicy,” not “floral.” This spiciness is held up by 12% alcohol, a persistent but not sharp acidity, and less than 1 g/l of residual sugar. There’s also a kiss of reduction upon opening, but it fades in the first glass making it of those bottles that you want to keep coming back to see where things are heading. Petra describes it as, “Very drinkable yet a concentrated sip.” For us, this speaks to how old this grape is in contrast to many of its more modern stainless steel/reductive examples. It’s like walking into a room full of incense rather than perfume. 948 bottles produced.
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